Feb 17

What a difference a day makes

by in India

A hot shower, a great meal, clean clothes and I’m a new man.  I made it into Agra early in the morning, not long after Lynne arrived on the train from Delhi. Great to see each other as it seems like I’ve been on the road for a month.

The Heritage Homestay is just what I needed – a family guest house which makes a wonderful change from half star hotels and noisy truckstops. I have to say though that even while the truckstops are very basic, with only a army camp bed, the food is always great tasting & hot. A daily menu of different types of dhal, freshly made chapattis, a few vegetables washed down with a cup of hot sweet chai. Everyone’s super friendly, my gear is never touched and when I nod off after a hard day’s riding I’m dry, warm & safe amongst people who are genuinely hospitable.

As expected the bike draws crowds where-ever I stop and not once has anyone ever touched anything. My age seems to amaze people and even when no-one speaks English, (and that’s often) we still seem to share a mutual understanding that the world really is a great place regardless of our differences. As the wise Mr Singh our host says, our dress code, language & culture maybe different but we all bleed the same colour.

I had been starting the morning with a hot chai, and during the day just having a bottle of mango drink & a bottle of coke. Now that I’m more comfortable on the road and have a routine (and getting my ear chewed) I’ll make a point of having breakfast to maintain my energy level before I set off each day. It can be pretty cold at times but I’ve been told it is 45 degrees here in the summer so I’m glad I chose this time of year to travel.

Back home when selecting gear for the trip my priorities were quite different than what I now see as more important. For instance, I chose well made waterproof boots with strong toe caps. After eight hours in the rain in Nepal the boots were soaked through & took days to dry out. The toe caps have caused a problem that wouldn’t occur with normal motorcycle riding and that is when trying to stop in heavy traffic. Because the bike is so high I find myself pushing my toes into the ground for extra stability – otherwise termed as panic stops. This has caused the nail on both my big toes to blacken and be pretty sore for the first few days.  It’s been suggested to me by my support advisor to switch to some open sandals for when I’m not riding to try and stave off any infection. But you know me, I just nod and keep right on. When the toes fall off then I’ll know I should have taken the wise one’s advice.

Despite the added weight some items have proved essential. Even though there’s no camping out in India my sleeping bag has been handy for added warmth & for when the sheets on hotel beds are what you might call questionable.  I’d like to be carrying less weight but the only things I can find to chuck out at this stage are the waterproof pannier covers…they’re totally useless in these conditions.

While the bike is running well, there’ve been a few minor mishaps that have required attention now we’re laid up for a few days. One of the problems is the amount of oil that leaks out of the exhaust valve lifters. This combined with dust and grime coats my boots, pants, the bike and gear bags, making it difficult to keep anything clean. So the first job was to get everything back to normal. It’s amazing how much better it feels to set off with clean gear, even if it only stays that way for a few hours. I’ve now extended the rubber hose from the exhaust pipe to minimize the amount of oil spraying out from there.

Constant jarring over bumpy roads has broken the light hinges and Mr Singh has kindly offered to get the light repaired in his engineering shop. The wedge that secures the pedal gear to the frame needed adjusting & a shortened nail did the trick. The rubber bulb fell off the horn when the brass ring came loose, so a strong hose clip now holds it in place.  When the back tube blew apart it forced the tyre hard up against the mudguard, breaking a mudguard stay and pushing the mudguard up against the stand, removing a large chunk of paint. By the time I reach Belgium I reckon the FN will be really looking at least 101 years old!

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8 Responses to “What a difference a day makes”

  1. From Carl-Erik Renquist:

    You should see if it is possible to line the tires insides with a discarded bicycle tire thread cut down to fit. I am surprised noone have showed you that trick as it is common in India. In common straight side tires one or two layers of discarded tube is used as reinforcement.

    Posted on February 25, 2012 at 4:35 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Carl-Erik

      Great idea if the tyre had room to put any added rubber, as I used to do this with truck tyres. Unfortunately beaded edge tyres are a totally different design from normal motorcycle tyres. The two outer sidewalls end up tucked under the tube across the rim leaving no space to put in any other layers. But thanks for the suggestion – all comments are greatly appreciated. If I don’t manage to locate any better quality tyres (Dunlops seem to be out of stock) then I’ll just be taking it really easy over any rough sections. Not that I was going hard, but with the added weight on the bike it does prove challenging when negotiating roadworks.
      Great to know you’re along for the journey Carl-Erik.

      Cheers, Ron

      Posted on February 26, 2012 at 2:12 am #
  2. From wal haylock:

    hi ron——-i sent some info about supply of tyres——–it is on whats not to see——-it might be helpful————cheers! wal haylock

    Posted on February 24, 2012 at 10:42 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Wal

      Yes, received your message but had internet problems. Thanks for the details – attempting to contact them now. May not be able to reach anyone before Monday. Seems only cheap version available from what I’ve read and need some which are 4 ply to stand up on the rougher roads.

      Thanks for all your help.


      Posted on February 25, 2012 at 6:58 am #
  3. From bobbee singh:

    Leakage of oil ( among other things ) in INDIA is routine infection. Its got something of a spirituality to it, but that s a chat i d rather have parked alongside FN on my 68 Royal Oilfield called the Bumble Bee.

    Hope to see you & FN.


    Posted on February 22, 2012 at 6:03 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      LOL Love the “Royal Oilfield” description!
      The FN is coated in oil constantly because of the manual feed but it’s doing the job which is the important thing. Here’s hoping it keeps chugging along.


      Posted on February 23, 2012 at 11:50 am #
  4. From wal haylock:

    hi ron the running comentory on fn maintenance is valuable——–i fitted an adjusting screw to the chain adjusting wedge which is not effective——–wonderful to see that you are getting along ok—-keep it up——-as burt monroe said “you can live more in five minites on a bike than in a whole lifetime”—or something like that—cheers! wal

    Posted on February 21, 2012 at 6:40 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Wal,

      Just broke a couple of spokes and had second tube blow, with a tyre also this time. Need to try to locate a couple of Dunlop tyres as the Thai made ones are not up to the job. Hopefully someone out there can help out with locating them. I’ve got some spare spokes so no worries there. The tyres & tubes tho are my main concern right now. I’m in Jodhpur after a pretty rough ride the past two days, so some rest, a good cleanup and sightseeing before I head north to Pakistan.

      Good luck with the restoration work.
      Cheers, Ron

      Posted on February 23, 2012 at 11:37 am #

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